IOWA CITY — Three moves have been made. Now, there are three to go.
It sounds as though Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has a pretty good idea where he’s going with the offensive line and linebackers openings, but offensive coordinator might take some time.
Before he became Iowa’s head coach, Ferentz made his bones as an offensive line coach. He knows a few of those, he said during a Wednesday press conference.
“There’s not a lot I know, but I do know some line coaches, that’s one thing I do know in football,” Ferentz said.
LeVar Woods, who’s been administrative assistant and interim coach on and off since 2008, remains an interim coach, Ferentz said. Interim coach of what? Well, he was defensive line coach, but now it looks as though Woods is headed to the linebackers position.
“We’ve got a guy who’s been around here for a long time who’s a strong candidate, but he’s got to run the race,” Ferentz said, referring to Woods.
Offensive coordinator sounds as though it might take some time. After 13 seasons with the Hawkeyes, Ken O’Keefe accepted a job as wide receivers coach with the Miami Dolphins last Friday. Offensive coordinator is the newest opening, so it likely will be the last one filled.
“It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, you always try to see things coming,” Ferentz said. “I think we have some options that I want to think about a little bit before we move too quickly.”
How the different coaches will fill different roles on offense is undetermined. Ken O’Keefe held the titles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for 12 years (the first season he was receivers and coordinator). Ferentz said it could work that way again, or he could see a coordinator also coaching tight ends.
Ferentz said he wouldn’t rule out internal candidates for offensive coordinator. He also said he wouldn’t rule out trying to coax his son, Brian, out of New England, where he’s tight ends coach for the Super Bowl runner-up.
“I’m really confident we’re going to get a good guy or I wouldn’t have moved Reese [Morgan],” Ferentz said.
Tuesday, Phil Parker was promoted to defensive coordinator, replacing Norm Parker (no relation) who held the position for all of Ferentz’s 13 seasons at Iowa. Also, Darrell Wilson was moved from linebackers to defensive backs, replacing Parker, and Morgan was switched from offensive line to defensive line, replacing Rick Kaczenski, who now is Nebraska’s D-line coach.
This will be the first coordinator stint for Parker, 48, who’s been a defensive backs coach for 24 seasons at Toledo and Iowa combined. Ferentz said Parker turned down two job opportunities during his 13 seasons at Iowa, including a chance to be defensive coordinator for a recent BCS top 10 program.
That said, Parker wasn’t always the “leader in the clubhouse.”
“No, he wasn’t always the leader,” Ferentz said. “That wouldn’t be fair to say that. I’m not sure I had — I kind of had a leader, but it wasn’t anything — I just kind of wandered around the race a little bit and gathered information.”
Don’t look for a ton of changes in the way Iowa runs it defense. Expect the 4-3, expect zone coverage and expect the Hawkeyes to attempt to keep plays in front of them, a la the “bend don’t break” stamp. Iowa’s defense doesn’t score style points, but in four of the last five seasons, it has been in the top three of the Big Ten in scoring defense.
“He and the staff will have some things they want to talk about, some new ideas, which I think is great,” Ferentz said. “The challenge is to get ideas on the board and then what can our players do and what can we get coached and taught, so we’re not giving up the big plays? That’s No. 1 on defense, not giving up those easy touchdowns. It’s hard to survive those.
“That’s the dilemma. I think there will be plenty of ideas in the room. I think he’ll entertain those. I think as a group they’ll come to some conclusions. I think there will be something that will be different, and I think that’s good. We’ll maximize what we’ve got.”
Wilson will continue to have a hand in coaching special teams, along with running backs coach Lester Erb. Morgan’s move was perhaps the most abrupt, but Ferentz believes the defensive line is in a “building” mode and he believes that’s Morgan’s strength.
“Reese is a builder,” Ferentz said. “He’s a guy who builds up players, helps them develop in a positive way,” Ferentz said. “We’ve got our work cut out there.”
The Hawkeyes begin spring practice on March 24. Ferentz said he hopes to have the hires made before the start of spring practice, which concludes with a spring scrimmage on April 14 at Kinnick Stadium.